By: Emily Quirino, 2L
The Biden Administration has reopened an emergency immigration facility for children in Carizzo Springs, Texas. The facility is located far from public view and spreads 66 acres. Trailers that once housed oil workers have now turned into dorms with bunk beds, classrooms and medical rooms.
The facility received immense criticism under the Trump Administration when it was opened for a month in the Summer of 2019. The facility holds hundreds of children in soft enclosures like tents. The influx of Central American migrants in 2019, exposed the poor quality of the facilities when child welfare inspectors found overcrowding, neglect and a dirty living environment where the children lived. Migrants call the facilities “perreras,” or dog kennels because of the cold concrete floors that they are forced to sleep on.
The Trump Administration attempted to deter migrants through a “zero tolerance” plan. By implementing bans on those seeking asylum and increasing prosecutions. Under this plan, the Trump Administration also separated thousands of children while parents awaited prosecution.
Now that the Biden Administration has reopened the facility, criticism has returned. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, Mark Weber, says the Biden Administration is moving away from Trump’s approach and is focusing more on the welfare of the child. The Department says children will remain at the facility for 30 days. However, in 2020 migrant children spent an average of 102 days in custody. Weber also states the facility will close once the pandemic ends. White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki additionally promises that the reopening of the facility is only temporary to follow COVID-19 protocols. Yet, it is unclear when the pandemic, or if and when COVID-19 protocols will end.
The same problems and criticisms still remain under the Biden Administration. Children are placed in unmarked vans and taken to remote locations for days or maybe months. Now, with the current COVID-19 protocols, children are held in quarantine for ten additional days and must test negative for COVID-19 twice before being moved. Despite a new president in administration, some things have not changed. As the current administration inches back on promises to do and be better than past administrations, it blurs the party lines, showing that despite their differences, both parties are ripe for criticism and in need of deep reflection.